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ZORA
Unapologetic. Ours. A publication from Medium for Black women.

Natural Hair

In ZORA. More on Medium.

A photo of Miko Branch.
A photo of Miko Branch.
Miko Branch. Photos courtesy of Miss Jessie’s, LLC.

In 2000, Miko Branch and her sister, Titi, launched a natural hair care brand from their kitchen table in Brooklyn. They named their creamy concoctions for curls Miss Jessie’s Original, after their grandmother, a Southern Black matriarch who taught them all about hair care and family. More than 20 years later, Miss Jessie’s natural hair products are a staple in the regimens of many Black women around the globe. Even after the death of her sister, Miko Branch continues to carry the legacy of the family business and is helping millions of women own their beauty from the inside out.


When are we going to let Black hair just be?

Back view of a Black woman with natural hair.
Back view of a Black woman with natural hair.
Photo: Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

My body has been politicized, and I have had no say in the matter.

When I decide to rock my Afro, apparently, I am freeing myself from the shackles historically placed on people of color in America, down for the movement, and I am fighting against established social norms.

Does all that really come with my natural hair? Geez, all I did was grow it. So tomorrow, when I decide to put my wig on, have I stopped doing all those things? Yes? Okay, good to know.

Now, I’m in no way saying there’s anything wrong with liberation and shaking…


My Egyptian curls were an embarrassment, then they became my greatest asset

An illustration of the back of a woman belly dancing, against a deep fuschia background.
An illustration of the back of a woman belly dancing, against a deep fuschia background.
Illustration: Michelle Durbano

“Why don’t you straighten your hair?” Tiffany, the girl with the pug nose, asked me in theater class. “You would look better with straighten hair.”

I pulled on a stringy curl. My curls had already started to frizz and it was only 10 a.m. No matter how much mousse and gel I had put into it, my hair refused to calm down. My curls stuck out in every direction. Even when I put them in a bun, a few managed to escape.

“It takes too long to straighten,” I replied, setting my curl down. …


I not only hated my job, I hated myself. I knew something had to change.

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Sometimes I wonder what my co-workers see when they look at me. For a long time, I tried to look and act the part, to behave the way that may be expected of me. I relaxed my hair. I wore smooth, slick buns and blazers, and was a regular contributor to meaningless corporate small talk about the weather. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: “Corporate Kasey.” I was dry. Stoic. Unsure. Bored and lonely. I received rave reviews from my superiors about my work performance and admirable morale, but none of my co-workers knew how miserable I was. …


Here’s how to interpret and navigate all the negative health news

Photo: Roy JAMES Shakespeare/Getty Images

Every day we are reminded of the sheer volume of things that, according to studies, negatively impact women of color. You name it, it hurts us. From alcohol and traffic accidents to toxic masculinity and certain nail polishes, between the reporting of personal anecdotes or outright studies, there is often a negative outcome. And now, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study has found a correlation between chemical straighteners, hair dyes, and cancer.

What’s a woman to do?

Dig deeper.

The causal link between Black women, cancer, and chemical straighteners is something that has been discussed in the community for…

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